Chapter 6: Risa’s side.

“I’m playing some games with Kyohei, and your exams are done,” having chanced past my brother in our house’s hallway, I was thrilled to hear his sudden words.

Kyohei and my brother have been glued to the hip since our elementary days, and I used to follow him left and right while calling him big bro.
In hindsight, I’d liked him since then, but he only ever looked at Maika, another friend from that time.
He never told anyone, but it was pretty obvious who he had a crush on.

I thought it would be fine to just watch, but since we got into middle school, the times we’d talk grew further and further apart.
My wish was to see him every waking day, but I hesitated.

At that time, I had just finished doing the entrance exams for my current high school.
It is still one of the best ones in the prefecture.
Then, one day my brother came up to me with a trickle on his forehead.

“Kyohei and I are taking a break right now, and we’ll go back in half an hour,” he continued.
“Try to switch with me right now.
I’ll hop on the VC and pretend I’m the one playing and keep up the conversations.
That way, you’ll be able to play a bit.
Unlike him, I’m just a newbie and I’m horrible at FPS games, so he won’t notice a thing.”

It was just one match, I had thought.
I haven’t had the chance to do anything with him recently, so…

“I’ll give it a try,” I said, getting the basics down with my brother before the thirty minutes were up.
I’ve always liked games, so picking it up was a breeze.

As a result, I had a blast with him.
The game itself was pretty fun, but more than that, I was exhilarated with the fact I was playing with Kyo, who’s saved me more times than I can count.
I was so, so incredibly happy…

“You’re a science kind of girl, Risa,” my brother commented as I was basking in that fleeting joy.
“So it might be nice if you can get into PCs to know more topics in common.
Maybe you could hide your identity and add him?”

That’s it! I had thought.
I go to a private girls’ school, so we barely even see each other; plus I don’t have the guts to go up to him out of the blue.
But on the internet… Looking back on it now, it really was a weird idea.
I still thought it was a good one back then.
What if he had stopped playing the game at some point?

“Thanks, big bro! This was fun, and I’ll do what you said!”

“Okay, just don’t bounce off the walls.
Well, go for it, girl.”

I was in my third year of middle school, but I had time to spare since I had no pending entrance exams for any high schools.
With that one singular goal of getting closer to Kyo in mind, I started to learn more about PCs and the game, enjoying every step of the process.

The more I learned, the more fun I had with it.
I also participated in small online tournaments while purposefully playing rough, without the fear of getting hit.
Due to that harsh style, I was given the nickname “the Beast” by others around.
Eventually, I got treated as a fully-fledged pro, even though I was also told it would be hard to win solo due to my suicidal playstyle.

However, I saw that as an opportunity.
The lay work was done, and all I need was a trigger; something I could use that wasn’t too unnatural to get close to him.
At that time, he was also a solo player whom people called “the Teacher” due to his over-calculated moves, use of items, and accurate long-range shots.
Like me, he was regarded as not being too good in a solo queue.

I clicked on the friend request button without missing a beat.

“How about we duo together? I think we can play on each other’s strengths.”

It took him a while to reply, but soon he said, “I’d be happy to oblige.” As soon as that blessed ping reached my ears, I was so vocal my brother rushed into my room asking if I was okay.

Although I’m embarrassed to say it myself, we had amazing chemistry together.
We had a blast every time we played with each other and, wanting to leave these good times behind, I went with the flow and started live-streaming.

I called that channel “The Beast and the Professor’s Chillin’ Session,” and it has gained a rather large amount of viewers.
More and more people started to comment on how better I was than when I only played solos.

However, as soon as Kyo started to confide more and more in me as Kenji, I felt my heart start to tighten by the day.
In reality, he never saw me, and there was only one girl in his heart.

Still, the fear of revealing my identity was too much to disregard.
What if things go irreversibly awkward? What if I lost my spot next to him? So, I continued to lie, thinking that this feeble connection was better than nothing.

This dynamic, however, changed as soon as he told me something in a voice call.
He told me he was rejected, though he hadn’t even confessed in the first place.
Kyo went into details, saying that, in the flow of the conversation, she told him she’d never date him, and that what she did was none of his business.

I hadn’t seen her in a while, but never did I get the impression she was someone who’d say these kinds of things.
This discrepancy confused me, but I still took what he said to heart.

The day after, he told me another classmate had pulled a cruel prank on him.
She “confessed” her feelings and then ridiculed him in front of her group of friends.
Needless to say, I was livid. Despite all that, the boys took his side, and Kyo was excited as he told me of all the goofing around he did with them.

“… Ah! So one of them said he’d introduce me to a nicer girl,” he had said, taking me by surprise.
I panicked at the moment but managed to regain my composure before I continued talking.
Inside, though, I was a raging storm.

After somehow scraping by without letting Kyo notice something was very, very wrong, I rushed into my brother’s room.

It would’ve been fine if it was Maika, who he had known and loved for ages, but I didn’t want some random girl to pop into his life and take him away.

No longer holding back, I questioned my brother, and he responded, “I know how you feel, just give me some time.
I won’t make it worse.

A few days had passed since then, and Saturday had arrived.

“Hey, big bro, is someone here?” I felt the mood being kind of weird, so I went to ask him.

“Yeah, just one of my friends.
We’re just planning a strategy to cheer Kyouhei up.
But you’re here just in time! Could you go to the convenience store and get me three bottles of tea? here’s the money.
Sorry, but could you please bring them to my room? Pretty please.”

“Aww, fine.
I’ll be back in a bit.”

And soon I was done with that errand.

“Bro, I brought you some tea,” I knocked on his door, and… What? My mind had stopped.
There he stood.
“Huh, big bro Kyo?!”

“Ah, Risa-chan? …Umm, you’ve become so b–beautiful.”

Why is he here? Also, what did he just say…?

“Wha— b, beautiful…”

I hadn’t seen his face in a long, long time, and I could feel the heat surging to my cheeks, and even the tips of my ears.

“Well, I know it’s nice to see each other again after so long and all, but please, sit down with us Risa.”

As soon as I saw that smug look on his face, I realized it was all a set-up.
What followed was me the most embarrassed, nervous, and happy I had ever been.
I could barely even form words, but truly, that was the best day I had ever had.

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